Notable decisions against Carpenters

Posted: 28 September 2018

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The Building Practitioners Board (the Board) recently handed down significant sanctions against two Carpentry licensed building practitioners (LBPs) and has chosen to publish the details of the matters due to their seriousness and the strong penalties.

The first complaint was made against Andrew Etchells in Tauranga, and the second against Andrew Musson in Auckland. The complaints have similarities relating to negligence and failure to provide records of work. This is a good opportunity for others to learn from these mistakes and avoid similar circumstances.

Andrew Etchells (C2-01587)

Mr Etchells was found to have:

  • carried out building work in a negligent or incompetent manner
  • failed to comply with a building consent
  • failed to provide a record of work as required by the Building Act.

The Board heard evidence that Mr Etchells was supposed to be supervising unlicensed workers constructing a prefabricated house in Hamilton, but was only visiting them from Tauranga on weekends. The work then involved installing the prefabricated house on to foundations. Mr Etchells acknowledged that he was supposed to supervise the restricted building work.

Mr Etchells confirmed that he did not know who was carrying out work on-site and that another person in the company he was working for prepared the record of work for him to sign. He did not check the details of the document before signing it.

The Board considered that Mr Etchells was not supervising restricted building work to an acceptable standard and was simply providing his licence to a manufacturing process. Work was carried out before a building consent was issued, and a record of work was not provided in a timely manner.

The Board ordered Mr Etchells should pay a fine of $4,000 and costs of $2,500. In addition, the Board ordered that this decision be published.

Andrew Musson (C2-01772)

Mr Musson was found to have:

  • carried out building work in a negligent or incompetent manner
  • failed to provide a record of work as required by the Building Act.

Mr Musson was recently involved in another matter before the Board. This is the second time a complaint decision against him has been published (refer to C2-01749 and Codewords 85).

In this matter, Mr Musson was making alterations to an existing house and allowed some changes to be made that were different to what was on the consented plans. The Board heard that he did raise these issues with the designer, however the work was undertaken without a formal amendment or minor variation.

The Board also heard Mr Musson did not provide enough support to the unlicensed person he was supervising to carry out work. The person was forced to seek advice from a previous colleague, which clearly indicated to the Board that Mr Musson was not providing adequate supervision.

Due to a contractual dispute, Mr Musson did not issue a record of work. The Board has consistently said that a record of work is a statutory obligation and must be provided despite disputes.

The Board ordered Mr Musson is to pay a fine of $3,000 and costs of $2,000. In addition it ordered that this decision be published.

What we can learn from these decisions

Both matters involved supervision with limited contact between the supervising LBP and those on-site. The Board noted some of the failures in these matters may have avoided if there had been better supervision, as the LBP should have identified faults before they became failures.

It is strongly recommended that LBPs read the Supervision Practice Note. It provides detailed guidance on what is needed for good supervision.

Read the Supervision Practice Note.

Records of work and contractual disputes are common themes in complaints. The Board expects LBPs to be aware of their obligation to provide a record of work. There are very limited reasons why a record of work cannot be provided. The legislation has no conditions that allow for failure to provide a record of work, and the Board has made it clear that a contractual dispute is not an acceptable reason.

LBPs should understand their obligations and deal with any disputes in the correct manner after a record of work has been issued.

Read these and other past decisions in full on the LBP website.

This information is published by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Chief Executive. It is a general guide only and, if used, does not relieve any person of the obligation to consider any matter to which the information relates according to the circumstances of the particular case. Expert advice may be required in specific circumstances. Where this information relates to assisting people: